The AK-47, or AKM, is notorious for its ease of function, reliability, and battle proven design. Throughout the years, much like the AR-15, there have been many accessories and modifications designed to make the AKM more comfortable, ergonomic, and ultimately, more effective. Some of these modifications include updated furniture, optics, illumination and various accessories.
When compared to the AR-15, the AKM is not nearly as modular in design, and often requires permanent modification to the firearm for the use of certain add-ons or accessories.
In this article, I’d like to talk about what upgrades we can add to the AKM that do not require permanent modification.
Let’s start off with the AKM stock. By itself, the AKM stock is fine when using the firearm in it’s original configuration. Ithas a relatively low cheek weld to accommodate the factory iron sights, which may feel unnatural once optics are added. The length of pull is comfortable for many shooters, but everyone is built differently.
For these reasons, the first upgrade we’re going to make is the stock. To add a more modern option we’ll need the RSA-AKM-NTR. This adapter adds a 1913 rail section to the rear of the receiver and allows you to install any 1913-compatible stock option. Next we’ll need an FM-SM-1913 Folding Mech which will allow us to install any JMAC stock or brace option. The SS (Skeleton Stock) and TS (Triangle Stock) series of buttstocks are available in 8” and 9” versions to accommodate different length of pull options. Both of these stocks have threaded holes in the top to allow the user to install a cheek riser to dial in a comfortable cheek weld. For this firearm, I’ll be using the ST-6 (Skeletonized Tube) which will allow me to add an adjustable M4 style buttstock. I’ll be using a Magpul CTR buttstock.
The RSA-AKM-NTR hardware replaces the factory grip nut, which is used to install the pistol grip. This brings us to our next upgrade, the grip. The factory AKM grip is found to be on the thin side for most shooters. This prompts many to upgrade to a more substantial grip that helps to control the firearm and gives the shooter a better overall feel. For this firearm, I’ll be installing the SPG-AK (Skeletonized Pistol Grip). The SPG-AK is a skeletonized grip that offers the functional dimensions of a full-size grip, without the excess weight.
Now that our rear end is looking pretty good, we’ll shift our attention to the front. For the front-end I’d like to replace the factory AKM lower handguard, gas tube, and upper handguard with something that offers more options for accessories and hand placement. In addition, an extended handguard offers heat protection from the barrel as well as a standoff between the barrel and surfaces such as barricades. The 10.64” MMS and AKM Gas Tube are a great option that do not require modification to the firearm. There is a notch cut into the lower handguard that allows the sling loop to protrude. The 10.64” MMS will extend just beyond the gas block and in combination with the AKM railed gas tube, offers several options for optic mounting, illumination, and accessories. The MMS handguard features a free-float design which transfers less heat from the firearm and increases overall accuracy.
Now that we have the MMS handguard installed, we can personalize it by adding accessories such as vertical grips, hand-stops, or rail panels. Vertical grips and hand-stops can make the front end feel more ergonomic and make it easier to drive the firearm and control it under recoil. One of my personal favorite combinations is the SFG (Skeleton Forward Grip) and HRD (Hand Retention Device). Between the two, I have several options for hand placement and a stand-off for barricade shooting.
An often overlooked addition to your firearm is the muzzle device. The muzzle device can drastically change the performance of your firearm. There are many types of muzzle devices available depending on what results you’d like to achieve. Anything from flash mitigation, to recoil mitigation, and everything in between. For this build, I’ll be using the RRD-4C, one of JMAC’s original products. The RRD-4C is the best performing device in terms of recoil mitigation and flash reduction. I highly recommend some sort of muzzle brake on a 7.62x39 firearm, when suppressors are not in use.
At this point, our AKM is looking pretty good. The last thing I’d like to add is an optic. There’s several ways we could mount an optic on this rifle. The easiest option is to mount a red dot directly on the railed gas tube. The railed gas tube will maintain zero and does not get hot enough to damage the optic. Since we’re performing the “Ultimate AKM Upgrade” I’ll be using the MMS T2 Optic Mount. At the time of this article's release, this mount is not yet available, but it will be in the very near future which is why I’m including it as an option. The MMS Optic Mount, mounts directly to the MMS lower mount and allows you to install optics that share the T2 footprint. This mount will also co-witness with your factory iron sights in the event that your red dot becomes unusable or the batteries run out.
The last couple of parts that I’ve omitted so far are the light and sling. This is due to there being countless options for both in terms of types and mounting positions (specifically for lights). For a sling, I’d recommend a quality nylon sling that uses attachment points compatible with your firearm (QD Sling Swivels are a great option). For illumination, I’d recommend taking a look at something like the Cloud Defense Rein 3.0 which comes with everything you need to install it on your firearm to get you up and running
At the end of the day, your firearm needs to fulfill the role it is intended for. This could be for competition, personal defense, recreational shooting, or maybe it needs to fill multiple roles. It’s important to use high-quality components that will not fail you when needed the most. JMAC products are manufactured in-house at our machine shop and fulfillment center in Gilberts, IL. Our products are manufactured to the highest quality and designed for shooters by shooters. For a complete list of the products mentioned in this article, see the list underneath the video below.
JMAC Customs Parts List